The 17th century English poet John Donne wrote that “No man is an island” as part of his ‘Devotions upon Emergent Occasions’ prose.
Donne, the celebrated metaphysical poet, principally referring to the relationship between human beings and universal vastness, implicitly emphasised the importance of people’s connections with others in recognising our shared surroundings.
Societies work well when they are bound by a unifying sense of identity rooted in common values, the emblems of which inform local and national habits and customs. Without a shared sense of belonging cementing a stable social order, juxtaposed sub-cultures co-exist with little knowledge and less understanding of one another; so isolation is born, and division breeds disdain.
The doctrine of ‘Multiculturalism’ – negating the need for a prevailing shared sense of belonging – by treating cultures as virtually distinct, with none more British than any other, has unpicked the social fabric of our country, creating many segregated ‘nations’ rather than one. In the words of the former Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, “multiculturalism had become a racket in which self-style community leaders bargained for control over local authority funds to would prop up their own status and authority. Far from encouraging integration it had become in their interest to preserve the isolation of their ethnic groups.” None of this can be reconciled with ‘one nation’ where that which unites us subsumes our differences.
Nowhere is the problem more stark than in the struggle against radicalisation of young Muslims. The tragic truth is that there are people born and raised in Britain who feel little attachment to their country or countrymen. So, when groups like ISIS rally impressionable youngsters to their poisonous cause, they push at a door opened by years during which minorities were told by the bourgeois left establishment that there are no rites of passage, no process by which citizenship is gained, in fact, no need at all to identify with Britain.
Last week, the Prime Minister spoke about the importance of fighting extremist ideology head on, marking the beginning of the end of multiculturalist denial. We must de-glamourise the extremist’s cause, challenge their myths and lies, and contrast their subversive doctrine with our values – democracy and respect for the rule of law. We must also be frank about the root cause of Islamist terrorism; it isn’t the result of historic injustices, recent wars or poverty – it’s an evil ideology which promotes segregation and barbarism. Those who seek simple causal explanations for Islamist fanaticism are unwittingly feeding the sense of grievance which fuels it.
Together we can defeat extremism, and by rediscovering a confidence in British values, history and culture, recreate a cohesive society, but not until we accept that there should be no irresponsible advocacy or lazy acceptance of multiculturalism.
Only by building mixed but integrated communities in which neighbours care more about what they are now than where they came from will harmony drown the shrill noise of extremism.
All who enjoy the benefits of being here owe their allegiance to one nation – Britain.